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Qantas posts huge $1.25bn half-year profit

written by Adam Thorn | February 22, 2024

Victor Pody shot Qantas’s first A220-300, VH-X4A, in Melbourne.

Qantas has continued its lucrative post-pandemic performance by announcing a half-year underlying profit before tax of $1.25 billion.

Earnings were just 13 per cent lower than the equivalent period in FY23 despite Australians facing cost of living pressures and rising inflation.

The Flying Kangaroo also confirmed it would use its strong position to purchase an additional eight A321XLRs to take its future fleet of the next generation aircraft to 28.

It comes after the airline posted a monster $2.465 billion profit before tax in its last financial year – the first full period free of restrictions following the end of the pandemic.

In a statement to the ASX, new Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson insisted on Thursday she had heard customers’ recent feedback of the airline “loud and clear”.

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“There’s a lot of work happening to lift our service levels, and the early signs are really positive,” she said. “Our customer satisfaction scores have bounced back strongly since December, and we have more service and product improvements in the pipeline.

“Having the financial strength to keep investing is key, and that makes the strong performance that all business units had in the first half so important.”

The results revealed that lower fares charged in the six months to December had a $600 million impact on profit.

However, the shortfall was mostly offset by the airline increasing its capacity. Qantas added that travel remained strong across all sectors, and business was now close to approaching pre-COVID levels.

The strong results allowed the business to gift 24,000 non-executive employees a $500 staff travel voucher.

Other significant announcements included in the results revealed:

  • Eight additional A321XLRs have been allocated to Qantas Domestic from its existing Airbus order, taking the estimated final fleet to 28. The aircraft are set to replace its ageing 737-800s;
  • Four additional mid-life A319s have been purchased for QantasLink subsidiary Network Aviation and will be based in WA to help meet demand from the resources sector;
  • Manufacturing delays have affected the delivery dates for the first A321XLR for Qantas Domestic by three months to early-2025 and the A350 for Qantas International (and Project Sunrise) by approximately six months to mid-2026;
  • The wider Qantas Group ended the half with $9.2 billion of liquidity, including $1.5 billion in cash, $1.4 billion in undrawn facilities and $6.3 billion in unencumbered assets;
  • Net debt rose to $4.0 billion at the end of December 2023 as new aircraft were delivered, the rebuild of forward revenue normalised, $452 million of buy-backs were undertaken and bonuses were paid to around 20,000 employees;
  • The Qantas board has approved a return to shareholders of up to $400 million in the form of an on-market share buy-back. This is in addition to the outstanding balance of $48 million from the buy-back announced last year.

“We understand the need for affordable air travel, and fares have fallen more than 10 per cent since peaking in late 2022,” continued Hudson.

“At the same time, we’ve seen a cost benefit from fewer cancellations and delays, and scale benefits as more international flying returns.

“Our people have been instrumental in the initial recovery we’re seeing, and I thank them sincerely. The journey we’re on will take time, but the spirit they are bringing is fantastic, and it’s made us optimistic about what we can achieve together.

“I want to thank our customers and our partners for their support as we keep working to make the Qantas Group an organisation that everyone is proud of. We need to deliver a service that is consistently better in order to succeed long term, and that’s what we’re focussed on.”

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Comments (2)

  • Adam, Perhaps reporting the financial results as;
    ‘After paying $377m in tax, Qantas made a profit of $813m, the company reported yesterday. This result is 13% down on the last annual profit.”
    A little more balanced than ‘huge profit of $1.25 billion’, wouldn’t you say?

    • Adam Thorn

      says:

      Journalism is a subjective business. The full year results are enormous compared to pre-COVID numbers. For context, for the entire financial year ending in 2019, Qantas made an underlying profit before tax of 1.3bn.

      Why use the word ‘enormous’? Because if I just post the number without the adjective, it lacks context. And unless you’re familiar with the financial results of Qantas going back years, you won’t necessarily understand how good or not it is.

      Hope that explains my thinking!

      Thanks,

      Adam

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